The Manchester derby will take place this Sunday, and it could not be more perfectly poised. City, the away team, are the top scorers in the league with 46 goals; that’s 11 more than United, who have scored the second most. United do boast the best defence, only conceding nine, compared to City’s ten. But the Red Devils cannot afford to ‘park the bus’ against the league leaders, who currently sit eight points ahead of them.
United’s performance against Arsenal was praised for the attacking intent, although Arsenal did have their fair share of chances. If those chances are presented to the most potent team in the league, it could be a very different story. The hosts are also without their key man, Paul Pogba, he was the catalyst for United’s attacks. It’ll be interesting to see how they line up without him. One thing’s for sure, it won’t be easy to suppress Guardiola’s side.
Ahead of Sunday's match, I used statistics from www.whoscored.com to compile a combined starting XI from the two teams. The players must have featured in at least five league games, and the overall rating is based purely on performances in the Premier League.
At times this season, both teams have played with three at the back. However, their most commonly used formations feature four defenders. United have opted for a 4-2-3-1, whilst City tend to go with 4-3-3. These formations are similar enough for the players selected to determine which is used.
GK: David de Gea (7.08)
Minutes Played: 1350
The Spaniard will need to recall his fine form against Arsenal when coming up against the league’s top scorers. He made 14 saves in that game, including a special double-save. He also has nine clean sheets, three more than City’s Ederson, who is rated 6.63.
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DR: Antonio Valencia (7.13)
Minutes Played: 1350
It’s no surprise that a mainstay of the best defence in the league makes the team. Antonio Valencia has played every minute of every league game for United, scoring twice along the way. He has worn the armband a lot this season, a sign of his importance to the team.
DL: Ashley Young (7.58)
Minutes Played: 978
Man City have spent somewhere in the region of £120 million on full backs/wing backs this season, and Man Utd’s make-shift one has out-performed them all. Walker (7.06), Danilo (6.65), Mendy (7.24) and Delph (7.27) have all performed well, but just fall behind.
Ahead of the #ManchesterDerby here's the greatest ever Premier League moment in Lego
— The Sportsman (@TheSportsman) December 8, 2017
DC: Eric Bailly (7.29)
Minutes Played: 720
United’s highest rated central defender is still not available for selection, but the others in his place haven’t done too badly. Jones (7.21), Smalling (7.00), Rojo (6.61) and Lindelöf (6.58) have shown they are able replacements, but Bailly is doubtless first choice when fit.
DC: Nicolás Otamendi (7.31)
Minutes Played: 1241
Otamendi has three goals this year, and has won more aerials per game (2.9) than Kompany (2.8) and Stones (1.6) who rate at 6.92 and 6.98 respectively. He also has an impressive pass completion percentage, 91.2. But the aforementioned have 92.4 and 96.6.
MC: Paul Pogba (7.91)
Minutes Played: 684
Manchester United fans will be frustrated at the timing of Pogba’s suspension. He is their joint highest assist maker alongside Mkhitaryan, with five, and has three goals too. He also has the most successful dribbles in the side, with an average of 2.8 per game. A huge loss.
MC: David Silva (7.56)
Minutes Played: 1249
The doubt over Silva’s fitness for the game seems to have subsided, and he looks set to start. This is great news for City, as the man they call ‘Merlin’ has eight assists this year, a tally only matched in the league by Kevin De Bruyne. A daunting challenge for United.
MC: Kevin De Bruyne (7.96)
Minutes Played: 1291
Kevin De Bruyne is the best rated player in the league so far this season. His eight assists and four goals go some way towards explaining that, but the quality of his delivery and his vision are missed by the stats. His 3.1 key passes per game is the most in City’s side. .
AMR: Raheem Sterling (7.53)
Minutes Played: 939
Sterling has nine goals this season, meaning he has already matched his highest league total, from 13/14. United’s young forwards are unable to match his rating: Martial with 6.99 and Rashford with 7.02, nor his goals; they have scored six and three respectively.
AML: Leroy Sané (7.49)
Minutes Played: 945
Sané has six goals and six assists this season, meaning he has been involved in as many of City’s goals (12) as any other player, joint with De Bruyne and Agüero. He also has more dribbles per game than any City player, with two. Exceptional form from the German.
CF: Sergio Agüero (7.64)
Minutes Played: 866
Agüero is City’s top scorer, joint with Sterling on nine. Only Salah (12) and Kane (10) have more in the league. Teammate Gabriel Jesus has an impressive eight, as does United’s Romelu Lukaku, who boasts one more assist than the Argentine. An interesting contest.
Romelu Lukaku (7.51)
Nemanja Matić (7.31)
Fabian Delph (7.27)
Phil Jones (7.21)
Gabriel Jesus (7.17)
Kyle Walker (7.06)